EL CAJON, Calif. — El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells is calling out the County of San Diego, accusing it of secretly dumping its homeless population in the East County city.
Wells says El Cajon has noticed a huge increase in homeless population and criminal activity, with police and firefighters having to respond to certain hotels in the area.
The city launched an investigation and found that eight of the smaller motels in city limits were at 25% or more capacity with homeless using county vouchers.
“Some of our hotels were 90% filled,” Wells said. “For what we surmise there’s this massive dumping of homeless in El Cajon. Nobody told us about it, nobody discussed with us which is completely wrong.”
The county partners with Equus Workforce Solutions to operate its outreach program using hotel vouchers to get the unsheltered off the street. He says the sheriff’s department drops them off and if they reach the 28-day limit, they are shuttled to another area hotel, where criminal activity and drug use follows, adding to his city’s already growing homeless problem.
“It shouldn’t be that some San Diegans have to deal with it and others don’t. If am dealing with it here, you should be dealing with it in Del Mar. You should be dealing with it in Encinitas, Scripps Ranch, Rancho Bernardo. If that’s the way we’re going to do it and we’re going to spread people around, then it should be equitable.”
San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher issued a statement that reads in part:
“The Board of Supervisors is taking action in a bi-partisan way to do the difficult work of getting people off the streets and into permanent housing. Mayor Bill Wells and the City of El Cajon want to push them back onto the streets. The public expects us to take action and El Cajon is playing a tired old blame game that does nothing to address the problem of homelessness in our region. We stand ready to work with anyone who is willing to do the tough work to get people off the streets but will not be deterred or distracted by those trying to drag us backwards.”